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Fleet of driverless grocery delivery vehicles takes to the streets
By our News Team | 2023
Last-mile delivery to consumers is increasingly high-tech in Europe, where autonomous robot carriers may soon be a regular sight in traffic.
In Africa, last-mile delivery of goods to a final destination can take the form of anything from a bicycle to a motorcycle, truck or donkey cart.
In Vilnius, the capital of the European nation of Lithuania, groceries are now being delivered to consumers by a fleet of small, driverless vehicles known as Autonomous Robot Carriers, or ARCs for short.
Photo courtesy of Clevon
Using technology to navigate the busy city centre traffic, these machines have multiple lockable compartments and can deliver up to seven separate orders on one delivery run. At the moment, delivery runs are restricted to a radius close to the city centre, but this could expand with time.
Vilnius is now said to be the first city in Europe to have a fleet of ARCs operating regularly on its roads.
This innovation comes from a delivery start-up called LastMile, in cooperation with Clevon, a company that specialises in developing and manufacturing autonomous robot carriers. The third party involved is IKI, a large supermarket chain in Lithuania.
In a pilot project last year, an ARC travelled around 2,000 km in three months and showed good performance.
“The trial paid off, with an overall score of 4.8 out of 5, and shoppers were keen to try the innovation,” says Tadas Norušaitis, CEO and co-founder of LastMile.
“Meanwhile, we have seen that we can deliver goods even more efficiently and flexibly, with less environmental impact, thanks to electric motors.
“After a successful test, we are taking the next step – for the first time in Europe, as many as three autonomous carriers will be part of the traffic in city centre streets. We believe that these robots will give us a significant advantage in the delivery sector, as customers will receive their goods quickly – even during peak hours.
He adds: “Speed is becoming one of the most important criteria for shoppers when choosing a home delivery method – 95% of our customers buy goods with delivery within a few hours.”
To ensure maximum safety, the autonomous carriers travel at a maximum speed of 25 km/h and navigate the streets using 360-degree cameras and special sensors. The carriers are tele-supervised at all times by operators who monitor the driving in real-time.
You can watch of video of the ARC project here.
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